Introducing Chiasmus

What follows below is a (slightly modified) copy of the Introduction contained in my first volume of chiastic quotes ebook, titled: Cry Chiasmus ... and let loose the blogs of words! that you can acquire - free! - at my brother site, Roger's Reference.

So, yeah, I cheated a bit to 'produce' this page. But ... no point in reinventing the wheel.


Like myself, you've seen it often: the situation in language where two or more words are used in different senses within two phrases which are, in turn, within the same sentence.

Moreover, the positioning of the words must be in reverse order, when comparing both phrases.

A very easy and well-known example is from Cicero, an ancient Roman senator.  He is the first recorded to say: "I eat to live, not live to eat."   For many years, when I first said that to somebody long ago, I thought that I had been the progenitor of that particular bon mot.  Such is the arrogance of youth!   Only much later, did I find out that Cicero had beaten me by 2000 years or more.

I could modify that quote of Cicero's very easily by saying this: "I drink to live, not live to drink!" but that's just a common, slavish copy.  Yet, at another level, the statement means something very different to Cicero's dictum.   Though, the best example of that construction I've ever seen is this: I just die to live, not live just to die! (That came from my youngest daugther. I wish I'd thought of it.)

Chiasmus has a long history, appearing in many languages and going back well over 2000 years, perhaps much longer.   So, there is a lot to learn, and a lot from whom to learn.   And, one of the first and best places to start is at Dr. Mardy Grothe's website.

Briefly though, you'll find there are a number of types of chiasmus, with implied chiasmus and double-chiasmus being just two.  From my own experience over the last twenty years, it's clear to me that just about any topic can be treated chiastically--it's simply a matter of finding the right mix of words.

Fortunately, I've inadvertently helped myself to find those mixes because I've realized my fascination and foibles with homophones and homonyms, over the previous 20 years, fit quite nicely with the whole concept of chiasmus.

In truth, homophones and homonyms are the backbone of good - even great - chiasmus.

You can download all three volumes for free, anytime, at that site. Go for 'em.


Roger's sign off

Roger J Burke

Mixed Mentations

Some Passing Thoughts:

Get the free download of my complete chiastic thoughts in Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3.

Words sounding the same....

Confused by words that sound the same? Almost everybody I've encountered is, sometimes.

They're called homonyms and homophones. And I've maintained a dictionary of them for fifteen years. Click here for more....

Heard about chiasmus?

It's a commonly used language tool. Most people have used it, including you. It's been used continuously for millennia by many of the greatest minds in history.

Join the fun here to see how it works....

Here's the novel app about challenging words used in literary fiction:

It's the app that takes the tedium out of the medium!

Want to go to Papua-New Guinea?

Well ... let me take you there with my non-fiction narrative (aka memoir) about the last years of Australia's colonial life in the 1960s. And where I was a Cadet Patrol Officer from 1961 to 1964.

Read more about it and choose a fully illustrated paperback here or choose the ebook here.

Everybody has an opinion!

Over many years, I've written on a large variety of topics, all of which are here for you to read.

You can browse through the titles here, including one describing in detail how I cured arthritis in my hands. And how, amazingly and inadvertently, the end of a rainbow found me and my wife. I kid you not!

Most people like to see movies....

And I like writing reviews. I've been doing that for years at IMDB.COM. You can read, at IMDB, a few from my entire portfolio here. Or, you can sample a larger selection right here.

Is Terminator coming soon?

The short answer is no. Should you be afraid? Not yet....

For more information, news and articles on that touchy topic, you can read through my roboticswatch blog here at Wordpress.

Novel ideas and stories....

I completed a contemporary thriller, under a pseudonym of Cyrus H. Milton, ten years ago titled Loose Cannon. You can find out more here and get a free copy (PDF) of the original edition.

Here's the short of it.

Short stories are fun to write for many reasons. You can browse all the titles for my shorts here and read them all if you wish.

Note: occasionally, there is foul and profane language and explicit sex in a couple of stories.

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